Bill that would have forced Arizona teachers to weed out modified students
Published on March 17, 2022 at 6:50 a.m.
A GOP bill that would have forced teachers to weed out LGBTQ students was amended by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday to remove the language, but has still faced criticism from Democratic lawmakers.
“I want to say loud and clear that this was in no way an attack on the (LGBTQ) community,” Rep. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, sponsor of Bill 2161, told the committee.
The bill, in its current form, prohibits a school, political subdivision or government from “usurping a parent’s basic right” to raise their children, allows a parent to bring a civil action against any government entity or official that violates the Parents’ Bill of Rights. , gives parents rights to all written or electronic school records, including student council records, and requires schools to notify parents before a student survey is conducted, among other changes .
Supporters of the bill said it was necessary to punish teachers in order to bring transparency to schools, who they said were asking “inappropriate questions”. The main purpose of the legislation is to reign in school-sent polls that have made headlines in a number of states and locally.
The wording that was removed from the bill would have made it illegal for a government employee to withhold information “relevant to the physical, emotional, or mental health of the parent’s child,” and would specifically prevent teachers from withholding information about the “purported” gender identity” or a request to transition to a gender other than “the student’s biological sex”.
The bill would have allowed parents to sue school districts if teachers failed to comply.
Members of the LGBTQ community have criticized the bill, one of several bills this year that they see as an attack on the community. Kaiser admitted to working on the bill with anti-LGBTQ advocacy groups, chief among which is the Center for Arizona Policy, a Christian lobbying organization that regularly advocates for conservative social legislation on Capitol Hill.
The CAP dominates most Republican lawmakers and Governor Doug Ducey, and is widely considered one of the most powerful lobby groups on the state Capitol.
Another stakeholder Kaiser has consulted with is Family Watch International, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group.
“It has the potential for a bit of chaos,” Sen. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, D-Tucson, said of the bill. “(Teachers) have been hammered, so they’re going to err on the extreme side of caution about anything.”
For Stahl Hamilton, his concerns relate to another part of the bill which states that the state or any political subdivision of the state shall not “interfere with or usurp the fundamental right of parents to direct the education, the education, health care and mental health of their children.”
Stahl Hamilton and some of his fellow Democrats worried that the language of “usurping the basic right” was too vague and could affect not just teachers but other parts of the education process and create larger problems.
Sen. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson, said she was concerned that a librarian who might suggest a book that a parent might later disagree with could be sued by a parent under the wording of the bill.
“If this librarian gives this book to a child … we would like the parents to be involved with this child,” Kaiser said in response, saying the intent of the bill is to inform parents.
Cathi Herrod, the chair of CAP, during her testimony before the committee, said some of the examples given by Democratic lawmakers could likely be dismissed as “frivolous” and that the bill is needed to deal with “invasive” investigations. “.
The bill was approved by the committee along party lines and will make its way to the full Senate. He has already walked out of the House, also along party lines.
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